Pakistan has played double game for years: Nikki Haley

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration on Tuesday accused Pakistan of playing a “double game” with the US for years, a behaviour that was no longer acceptable.

“The administration is withholding USD255 million in assistance to Pakistan. There are clear reasons for this. Pakistan has played a double game for years,” US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley told reporters in New York.

“They (Pakistanis) work with us at times, and they also harbour the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan. That game is not acceptable to this administration,” Haley said.

She added Trump was willing to go to great lengths to stop all funding from Pakistan as it continued to support terrorism. The US expected far more co-operation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, she said.

“We know that Pakistan can do more to fight terrorism and we want them to step up and do that,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference.

The Trump Administration has blocked USD225 million in its Congressionally-sanctioned aid to Pakistan. “The president outlined a new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia earlier this past year, in August. And at that time, he said Pakistan is not fulfilling its obligations,” she said.

“The president is simply following through on a commitment that he made, because this is a president who does what he says he’s going to do,” Sanders said.

Meanwhile, the State Department said it expected Pakistan to take decisive action against the Haqqani Network and other militants operating from its soil.

“Pakistan is an important partner.  We have a lot of issues in that region.  Pakistan knows that, we all know that, and we try to work carefully together on some of those issues.

“I don’t want to say that Pakistan can do more, but Pakistan knows what it needs to do,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at her daily news conference.

“We expect Pakistan – and we’ve made clear, and the President has made clear in the past also through his new strategy that was announced back in August about the new South Asia strategy that the United States expects Pakistan to take decisive action against the Haqqani Network and other militants who are operating from its soil,” she said.

Nauert added the decision to withheld US aid to Pakistan was taken in August. “That was an announcement that came out back in August, and for some reason, people got interested in it again.  But that is not a new announcement that we would hold back on that money.”

The spokesperson said: “They need to earn, essentially, the money that we have provided in the past in foreign military assistance, they need to show that they are sincere in their efforts to crack down on terrorists.”

Senators Rand Paul, meanwhile, announced bringing legislation in the Congress to stop US aid to Pakistan. “I wholeheartedly agree with Trump on this. The US has given USD34 billion in direct aid and military reimbursements to Pakistan since 2002. That is not putting America first, and I will introduce new legislation in the coming days to stop aid to Pakistan,” Paul said.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in a separate statement applauded Trump for his realistic assessment on Pakistan. “Pakistan’s regime, though our government imagines otherwise, has long acted as a malignancy in South Asia.

“It pretends to benign neutrality, seducing the United States into believing it will cooperate with us in the war on radical Islamic terrorism if we ship its political leadership copious tax dollars,” he said.

By Lalit K Jha

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